First Nations Contemporary Music Program: Musicians and Band support

Key dates

Applications are now closed.

Amount: Up to $15,000

Applications closed:  6 October 2020 for activities commencing from 1 December 2020.

Applications closed at 3pm AEDT on the closing date.

Notifications:  You will be notified by 30 November 2020.

Please note: To apply you must be registered in our Application Management System a minimum of two business days prior to the closing date.

About the First Nations Contemporary Music Program

Australia Council for the Arts has received funding from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication through the Office of the Arts to provide grants to the First Nations Music Industry aimed at increasing development opportunities for musicians and bands. The First Nations Contemporary Music program is one of five programs under the Australian Music Industry Package announced in the 2019-2020 Budget. 

Two (2) initiatives under the First Nations Contemporary Music Program are the First Nations Music Industry Partnership and the First Nations Musicians and Bands fund, which will be managed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Unit, guided by the First Nations Musicians Advisory Group and assessed by the First Nation Arts Strategy Panel. These programs are aimed at a national development program for First Nations Musicians and bands. 

The objectives of the First Nations Contemporary Music Program are to: 

  • support the development of First Nations musicians and bands by providing professional industry-based opportunities such as training, mentoring, performing, recording and promotion
  • support sustainable employment and income-earning pathways in the wider Australian music industry for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands
  • build capacity in the Indigenous music sector by supporting partnerships, collaboration and networks across the Australian music industry.

The intended outcomes of the First Nations Contemporary Music Program are to: 

  • increase Indigenous-led opportunities that will deliver sustainable economic pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands
  • establish professional, viable and ethical networks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands
  • develop a strong sense of empowerment, cultural identity, pride and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands, contributing to resilient communities
  • celebrate and increase recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands, in the music industry and the broader Australian community. 

Musicians and band support is open to musicians and bands

The purpose of this grant is for First Nations Contemporary Music projects for individual artists and groups for creative and skills development projects of up to $15,000. These projects can include creation of new work, professional development, marketing and promotion, touring and performance opportunities including digital platforms.

Applications should be considerate of COVID-19 gathering restrictions put in place by state and federal governments.

Your activity should last no longer than 12 months from the proposed start date. Activities can commence from 1 December 2020 and must be completed within 12 months of the start date.


As this is a First Nations strategic initiative you will be required to provide: 

  • progress reporting
  • a final grant report at the completion of your project.



Who can apply

  • professional practising First Nations individuals and groups
  • Individuals can apply for themselves or on behalf of a group/band. You must be a practising artist or arts worker, and an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident.

Who cannot apply

  • You are not a First Nations artist.
  • You received a grant from the Australia Council in the past and that grant has not been satisfactorily acquitted.
  • You owe money to the Australia Council.

What you cannot apply for

  • projects or activities that do not involve or benefit practising artists, arts workers or the arts sector
  • projects or activities that have already taken place.

Examples of activities you can apply for

  • creation of new work such as singles, Eps and Albums
  • creation of video clips to promote new works
  • marketing and Promotion of artists/band, works, performance and touring opportunities
  • touring and Performance opportunities including digital platforms.


The First Nations Arts Strategy panel will review applications against the assessment criteria.

Assessment Criteria – Musicians and band support

We will assess applications against the following criteria:

1.The cultural integrity of the project

  • adherence to relevant cultural protocols
  • evidence of considered consultation and engagement with participants, audiences and communities.

2. The skills and strengths of communities and individuals involved in the activity

  • artistic merit of the project 
  • artistic experience of artists
  • quality of work previously produced.

3. The benefits and engagement of the activity for the individuals, group and the artform/s involved

  • clear need for this activity at this time
  • relevance and timeliness of activities to the individual or group
  • capacity to strengthen skills and ability of individual or group.

4. The viability of your activity

  • partnerships and/or long-term sustainability
  • effective use of resources with realistic and achievable planning
  • level of confirmation of proposed activities and partners
  • clear outline of income, expenses and in-kind contributions
  • costed project budget activities.

Application form

The application asks you for:

  1. a brief description of your artistic practice and/or group
  2. an outline of the proposed project or activity
  3. the artists and partners involved in your activity
  4. a budget that shows how you will spend the funding
  5. an outline describing the impact your project or activity will have on the intended beneficiaries in the short and long term
  6. support material.

We accept applications in a range of accessible formats, for example by video, in Auslan or other languages. If you have any questions about the application form, please contact Michael Hutchings  (details below).

Support material

1. Evidence of your practice

Provide recent examples of your artistic work that are relevant to the activity you are seeking funding for. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • a link to examples of your work that may include video, audio, images or written material
  • a link to examples of your proposed activity that may include video, audio, images or written material
  • a link to your website.

2. Letters of support

Individuals, groups or organisations can write letters of support for your activity if appropriate. These letters should explain:

  • how the activity will benefit the intended beneficiaries
  • how appropriate cultural protocols have been observed and permissions obtained.

Artists can include up to three (3) letters of support for their projects with each letter no longer than one A4 page. Where possible, combine your letters into a single document or link. 

Our preferred way of receiving support material is via URLs (web links). You can submit up to three URLs, which may include your website, or links to video, audio, images, scanned documents and written material. 

If you cannot provide URLs, you can attach up to two documents to your application in either PDF or Word formats.

We strongly recommend you link to existing, accessible examples of your work – there is no need to create new content for this application.

We do not accept support material submitted via post.

If you have difficulty submitting material online, or need advice on what type of support material to submit, please contact Michael Hutchings  (details below).

Download the accessible RTF version of this page.


To discuss your application, please contact: 

Michael Hutchings - Project Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts 

Phone: 02 9215 9040 

Learn more about the First Nations Contemporary Music Program streams. 

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